Just when everyone thought the World’s Loudest Month was coming to a close back in May, the first ever Louder Than Life was announced and set to take place the first weekend of October. With production by none other than Danny Wimmer Presents (the brilliant minds behind Rock on the Range, among many other renowned festivals), Louder Than Life was set to high expectations from the get go – and with it’s lineup of 30+ prominent bands, it certainly did not disappoint.
It was a brisk and breezy Saturday morning in Louisville, KY, but that didn’t stop a mass of rock and metalheads from making it out to Champion’s Park to catch the opening bands of Louder Than Life. Louisville native band Flaw kicked off the day at 11:30 AM on a side stage sponsored by Marshall Headphones. After their set, fans made a long walk to the opposite side of the venue where two Monster sponsored main stages were positioned side by side. Nonpoint opened up the South stage, then attention turned to the North stage for the Vegas rockers of Otherwise. The side by side stage set up was convenient, as little walking had to be done aside from those wanting to see a band on the small side stage.
Wilson, Fuel and Pop Evil continued the day, rotating through the Marshall, South and North stages respectively. At 2:25 PM, Thousand Foot Krutch was scheduled to play on the side stage, however unforeseen circumstances lead their performance to be rescheduled to 5:15. Back on the South stage, Steel Panther brought their typical entertaining show, loaded with 80’s style music, comedy skits and everyone’s favorite – boobies!
The North stage brought the focus back to current rock bands, as Theory of a Deadman ravaged the stage with a myriad of new songs from their recently released album Savages. Miss May I and Mastodon performed their sets before Thousand Foot Krutch (TFK) went on the side stage at their newly scheduled time. Unfortunately, the time change announcement was only made to those who had been at the side stage earlier in the day, so many people either missed TFK’s set or went running back to the North stage halfway through for Alter Bridge‘s ever outstanding 5:30 PM show.
Memphis May Fire brought out an energetic performance and notably sized crowd as they closed out the side stage for the day. Limp Bizkit then proceed to turn back time for an hour, reminiscing over the 90’s with a slew of hits including: “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle),” “My Way,” and “Break Stuff.” Vocalist Fred Durst wasted no time in riling up the crowd, as was off stage and strutting across the crowd barricade by the second song of their set. Stone Temple Pilots (STP) kept the 90’s theme around for their set, revisiting popular singles “Vasoline,” “Wicked Garden,” and “Interstate Love Song.” After original vocalist Scott Weiland‘s firing last year, Chester Bennington (better known as Linkin Park‘s screaming vocalist) stepped in to fill his shoes. Despite much speculation, Bennington displayed an impressive range of his voice and certainly seemed to be more on point than Weiland had been in recent years.
With only two bands left, Korn closed out the South stage at 8:50 PM. Jonathan Davis’ vocal effects (ex: “Boom na da mm dum na ema…” during “Freak on a Leash”) easily help distinguish Korn as one most recognizable sounds in today’s mainstream rock and metal music. Similar to their set earlier this year on the Rockstar Mayhem tour, they did a great job balancing out newer singles with older and harder classics.
By 10:00 PM, the temperature had dropped to almost 45° and sadly, much of the crowd had dispersed in search of heat. The hardest rockers weren’t heading home before witnessing one of the world’s original and finest metal bands, though. Judas Priest celebrated their 40th anniversary this year and the band still trumped over the stage with power and confidence. Clad in leather from head to toe, Rob Halford charismatically growled his way through song after song from their 17 album discography. With a double encore that consisted of “Hell Bent for Leather,” “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” and “Living After Midnight,” Judas Priest brought a highly anticipated and appropriately heavy close to day one of Louder Than Life.
With the sun shining and temperatures already higher than the previous evening, Sunday looked to be a promising day. Rising southern rock band The New Black 7 kicked open the stages at a bright and early 11:20 AM. Monster Truck and Islander performed next on the North and side stages, and were the only two bands with overlapping set times the entire weekend.
The next three bands on the main stages are relatively new to the scene, but have been winning fans over at many this year’s festivals. Crobot demonstrated a stand out performance earlier this year at Rock on the Range, and continued to leave the crowd in awe with another outstanding set. Swedish band Avatar also left an impression with guttural metal music accompanied by carnival costumes and face paint. Nothing More followed up Crobot and Avatar with their memorably energetic performance and unique steampunk style “Bassinator” instrument, which allows three members to play an upstanding bass all at once.
Supergroup Hellyeah (lead by former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul and Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray) packed the next set full of newer songs in support of their June album release Blood for Blood, then Butcher Babies drew a rampant crowd to the side stage. The dual female vocalists Heidi Shepherd and Carla Coates had copious crowd surfers flying over the barricade. Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. kept the crowd riled up as well, as he jumped off the stage to interact with fans on the barricade.
Motionless In White garnered yet another sizeable crowd around the side stage as they played their set at 4:10 PM. The metal band intrigued with make up, costumes and stage props akin to that of a Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson mashup. Metalcore bands Bring Me The Horizon and A Day To Remember put on equally dynamic main stage sets, which included beach balls and a huge burst of confetti that enveloped the crowd around the North stage.
The side stage was headlined by Chiodos, then all eyes were on the main stages for the rest of the day. Hailing from Denmark, Volbeat put on their customary, distinguished set. Michael Poulsen’s voice has a deeply distinctive tone that resembles Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, made even more apparent in the opening of “Sad Man’s Tongue.” Just a day after the festival, Volbeat’s single “A Warrior’s Call” from their 2010 album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven received an RIAA gold certification.
Papa Roach followed Volbeat’s set with yet another captivating performance. Jacoby Shaddix continued the theme of crowd interaction, also hopping down from the stage to high-five, hug and sing face-to-face with the crowd. The band played a number of their hits throughout the years, but the most exciting news and response came when Papa Roach announced they would be releasing a new single later this month, with a full album to come in January next year.
A baseball bat in hand, vocalist Ivan Moody prowled on stage, more than ready to attack Five Finger Death Punch‘s set. The heavy hitting quintet boosted the most obnoxious crowd of the weekend; mosh pits churned throughout the estimated 18,000 people and various UFO’s were thrown over head (one of the few times I will speak from personal experience – I took a flying shoe to the back of my head while photographing their set!). Five Finger Death Punch was one of the few bands to make an appearance at every single festival that was a part of this year’s World’s Loudest Month, so it was no surprise to see them as one of the co-headliners of Louder Than Life.
Some of the crowd diminished after Five Finger Death Punch left the stage, but Kid Rock put on yet another stellar headlining show. His opening speech had a few heads turning, but as soon as he came out from behind the curtain, the crowd was rockin’ out to “Devil Without a Cause,” “You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me,” and “Bawitdaba” like it was 1999.
Considering that this was the inaugural year of Louder Than Life, the festival went off without a hitch – aside from some noise complaints extending all the way up into Indiana and long lines at the port-o-potties, that is. Plans are already underway for the festival’s return in 2015, and the promoters plan to take measures to redirect stages in order to contain noise levels and hopefully bring in some additional restrooms. Aside from music, Louder Than Life featured over 70 food and beverage vendors allowing visitors to experience some of Louisville’s culinary culture, bourbon, whiskey and craft beers, all at prices that were remarkably reasonable. It’s clear that the promoters and producers have found their niche and have taken feedback and suggestions from previous festivals to heart, as the overall experience and lineup doesn’t get much better than this!